Advocating in Partnership With Alumni and Students
Recently, TFA staff and alumni—as well as some Seattle students—gathered in Olympia, Washington, to meet with state legislators and advocate for their education priorities.
This year, we polled our alumni base in Washington State on their top advocacy priorities for the year. Using the top five issues from this poll, we have created an advocacy agenda for the 2020 legislative session and beyond. With these priorities in mind, we headed down to Olympia in late February to meet with 15 representatives, senators, and legislative aides, as well as Governor Inslee’s senior education policy advisor, and advocate for our alumni’s priorities: high quality early learning, social emotional learning, and career connected learning.
Two young women, Isabella Flood Wallin and Ndalo Mwamba, both students at Summit Sierra in the International District of Seattle, joined TFA Washington staff and alumni to share their experiences with lawmakers and urge them to support our priorities. Legislators were especially enthusiastic to hear from them, as it is so rare that students are able to make the journey to Olympia on a school day.
"I learned that I can make an impact by sharing my story, and that starting with a story enables people who might not ordinarily agree on some topics to find common ground. In particular, we met with one senator who I know I disagree with on some policy issues. However, he treated us with such kindness and was excited when he found out we were from a charter school that he helped make possible by advocating for charter school legislation," Isabella says.
Alumni school leaders Kristen Roberts (D.C. ‘07) and Soham Sengupta (Twin Cities ‘15) shared compelling stories about the inequitable access to high quality early learning experiences that so many students and families experience in their northeast Seattle community.
“[The trip to Olympia] led me to realize the power and potential we hold as leaders and how uniquely qualified and positioned we are to disrupt the status quo by sharing our stories and experiences with our representatives and better our system to work for all students and families,” Soham says.
We look forward to seeing the impact alumni, corps members, students, families, and communities can make and will continue to push for our advocacy priorities throughout 2020 and beyond.
Isabella put it perfectly when reflecting on the effect we each can make: “Participating in lobbying showed me that there is an important role that each student, educator, and principal can play in how the education system is regulated. Although sometimes it doesn’t feel like students are continuously empowered, on this day I felt there are people who care what we think and about our experiences—and work to make sure our voices and opinions are heard,” she says.
If you would like to get more involved in our advocacy work, please contact Natalie Hanni.